Proposed transmission line threatens heritage rangeland

21 Feb 2016

Lethbridge Herald  LETTERS

Southwestern Alberta is more than a place to live; it’s the heart and soul of Alberta’s heritage rangeland. It’s an increasingly rare piece of Alberta’s once vast natural capital. Plants, birds and animals that are threatened on the nearby landscape thrive here because of landowners’ careful stewardship.

The ecological health of this land forms the foundation on which geotourism operators — including B&Bs, fishing guides and equestrian trail riders — build businesses.

This landscape’s arresting, unspoiled beauty attracts film companies and Hollywood producers. These same virtues are the reason Travel Alberta, showcasing the world-class appeal of southwestern Alberta, markets it around the world.

AltaLink proposes to have the people of Alberta spend $750 million to erect a new transmission line that invades this iconic heritage viewscape and industrializes the headwaters of the Oldman watershed. I ask these questions: 1. How can it be, especially in times of acute economic uncertainty, that AltaLink can propose to build a lattice-tower array that isn’t needed, plan to locate it the worst possible place, and expect Albertans to pay for the product?

2. Do Albertans want to spend the better part of $1 billion to erect an ugly, steel-and-wire electrical substation at heaven’s gate?

One profound reason this headwaters landscape is without industrial development is this: Landowners, government fish and wildlife officials, land trusts, and environmental not-for-profits have invested time and money to protect wildlife habitat, native grasslands and forests of ancient limber pines.

One of AltaLink’s proposed routes, if realized, would carve an industrial route through, or be located directly adjacent to, eight conservation easements. In other words, what society has laboured to protect for posterity, AltaLink has chosen to degrade for short-term corporate profit … doing this with the expectation that the people of Alberta will accept the destruction and pick up the bill.

We can’t let this happen. We can’t allow AltaLink to devalue Alberta’s premier viewscapes and diminish this region’s sustainable rural economy, or put land, groundwater resources, native grasslands and the health of livestock and wildlife at further risk.

David McIntyre

Crowsnest Pass